The New Year has barely rolled in and already Mother Nature has shown her strength. Just this last month, our part of the world has experienced such soul-rattling loss. We shake our heads at the cruel timing of these tragedies: Christmas—when all should be happy, festive, peaceful and bright. Should it?
When I think of all my Christmases as an adult, I can’t say that the feeling of joy stands out. In fact, it is almost the opposite. My Christmases have always been tinged with heaviness, some sadness and definitely a lot of inwardness. It is always a time of inner struggle—especially since becoming a mother—to awaken and understand that TRUE “Christmas Spirit” and carry it within me for my children to experience.
I have been reading up on Christian Festivals and discovered that this element of darkness during Christmas helps us to find the spiritual light within. The Christ light. It is through this background that I try to understand every inner and outer calamity that touches the world this time of year.
The end of every year is never easy. The minute you whip out your Christmas list, your whole life flashes before you. What do you give this person? Where is she in your life today? Where were you in relation to another the year before? The very season is structured for reflection and inwardness, hence the difficulty. Every Christmas is a review of a year of living and the experience isn’t always pleasant. But it is through this process, if done with care and consciousness, that the true spirit of the season can shine.
When the New Year rolls in, the deep darkness of the Christmas season slowly begins to lift. What burrowed deep into the earth the last few months slowly rises up to the surface, preparing to bloom and meet the sun upon its return. In this spirit, we ask ourselves, “What in me needs to awaken?” I believe this is the deeper root of New Year’s resolutions that, over time and through the ravages of materialism, have been so diluted to pie-slice proclamations: I will stop smoking, eat no meat, shun rice, lie less. This year, perhaps, we can shift our focus to soul qualities. What there needs to be strengthened, fortified, coaxed through?
I have spent the last few years in turbulent introspection. As I inch my way towards peace, I realize that all this is for nothing if I am unable to make my experiences matter in the world. What from my inner depths can I offer my community? As if on cue, I was presented with the opportunity through the Karangalan Conference and Festival, which is a 3-day event (January 21-23, 2005) aimed at celebrating everything good and true about the Filipino. It is a wonderful way to start 2005. What better way to meet the year than to focus on the positive and direct one’s brightest intentions and energies toward a country that so needs to be brought back on its feet again? If we were all to take that intention, turn it into conviction and deed, then offer it back out into the world, wouldn’t that be SOMETHING? I think it would be phenomenal, and so I choose to start my year by offering my inner light to shape a vision of a better Philippines.
As I write this, my heart is full with the sight and sounds of my boys frolicking on the beach while, not that far away, families like my own perished hours ago. It could have easily been us. But we are here. It is very difficult now not to make our lives matter. Not just for ourselves, but for others.
It is a New Year and already we are reminded of the weight of life. It is very clear that your life isn’t just about you. Dust off your scale and decide how to make your life matter in the world. Take your light and make it shine through. Do it where you are. There is no time to lose.